NFL Must Wait until the Regular Season to See Impact of New Kickoff Regulations

NFL Must Wait until the Regular Season to See Impact of New Kickoff Regulations

The Thursday game between the Vikings and Seahawks will give fans an opportunity to see the NFL’s new rules in action, especially the new touchback regulations. It has been a while since fans where this curious to see how the game would change in reaction to the new rules, though drastic changes in the NFL free picks are unlikely to emerge. 

The new touchback rule was driven by the NFL’s determination to make it more appealing for receiving teams to accept a touchback. In succeeding here, the number of live returns would most likely reduce.

The NFL has said, time and time again, that the desire to reduce injuries drives most of its decisions, especially when it comes to the kickoff. The NFL first attempted to reduce kickoff related injuries in 2010 by moving the kickoff from the 30 to the 35.

The results were difficult to ignore, with the NFL seeing a significant increase in touchbacks. Some people have argued that these new rules do not give players good reason to kick the ball through the end zone, not when they can just kick it short to the 1 or 2-yard line. 

The impact of the new rules has been witnessed clearly in the preseason games. In the Seahawks/Chiefs game on Saturday, only one of the nine total kickoffs went for a touchback.

Of course, while the Seahawks/Chiefs game is very telling, you cannot use that one sample to judge the impact of the new NFL rules on the game as a whole. In fact, Brian Schneider (Seahawks special teams coach) thinks that it would be a mistake to jump to any conclusions using results garnered from the preseason. 

There is a lot of experimentation in the preseason. Coaches are looking to put new players to the test even while deploying unique strategies for scrutiny. The approach some of these teams have taken in the preseason with regards to the new NFL rules might change the moment the regular season begins. 

Schneider also said that the Seahawks typically set very strict rules for their players when it comes to kicks and returns; in the Saturday game, for instance, it was determined that kicks more than five yards deep wouldn’t be returned while kicks inside of that could be returned. 

There are a lot of factors to consider when judging a team’s performance in the preseason, this not including the alterations they make to account for weather conditions.

Every game is different and most teams do not apply the same philosophy to each and every game. Just because Seattle averaged 20.8 per attempt (they didn’t get a ton out of their returns) doesn’t mean analysts should make any conclusions about the NFL rules.

Schneider admitted that many teams would probably feel compelled to kick it short and see what happens. It will help some coaches to see how short kicks do (and also how the numbers turn out). 

For each team, this preseason avails the perfect opportunity to acclimate to the new rules. As such, there might be more experimentation going on than some analysts might assume. Fans might have to wait until the regular season, where coaches and teams appreciate the importance of each game, to better understand the impact the new Touchback and Kickoff rules will have. 

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